Dear Surly Adult Male Internet Bullies,
Hi, I’m Lindsay, mom to sweet, funny little Ginny girl, dedicated high school English teacher, freelance writer, and blogger. I surround myself with a small group of close friends, am extremely close with my family, and am very protective of the ones I love. I believe in kindness, manners, forgiveness, and grammar. I’m a fervent learner and wish I could go to school forever. I have never had a brain freeze, believe in eating breakfast for dinner, and have strangely strong emotions about death. I strongly believe eating raw cookie dough is worth the risk of salmonella and have had a soft spot in my heart for the elderly and homeless ever since I was a kid.
Why am I telling you all of this, you ask? Because I want you to understand that I am a person, just like you.
An Open Letter to the Surly Grown Men Internet Bullies
I want you to understand that, at this very moment I’m writing to you behind the safety of my computer, there is a living, breathing person with hopes, interests, and a family. And hopefully you will realize that, at this very moment you are writing to me behind the safety of your keyboard, spewing your hate at me online, that we’re really more alike than we seem.
No, you will never find me being an overtly rude bully, but I can see deeper than that in you. I have to believe that you are also a husband, father, friend, son, uncle, neighbor, or co-worker to others who love and care about you. I do believe that people are more alike than different, and the sooner we can realize that, the sooner people can truly learn to accept one another.
I must admit though, my dear Surly Grown Men Internet Bullies, that the ferocious battles you seem to pick are quite surprising.
For example, when I posted this in a community Facebook group…:
…and you responded with this…:
I have to say, you sure stumped me. How I gathered the intelligence to put words together to write this post is beyond me – I’m just a rich 20-something blogger with no equity or intelligence, after all. But in all honesty Tom, if you have a secret to getting rich as a blogger, please tell me, because the traffic that post would drive to my blog could actually help make me rich.
This is sad on many levels.
1. I’m sad that we live in a world where people ‘speak’ to each other like this. I don’t tolerate bullying with my students, and I certainly won’t tolerate online bullying for myself, but instead of feeling angry, I feel sad.
2. I’m sad for you, that in all your retired glory, the best you could do today is pick on a 20-something blogger (acutally, much closer to 30 anyway…). It’s so nice outside – get out there; take a walk; go golfing; discover a new hobby; get a cheeseburger and a root beer – we have some incredibly delicious local burger joints that would surely brighten your day. These are all excellent alternatives to being an internet troll.
3. I’m sad that something is bothering you deep down inside that this is acceptable behavior to you. That’s why I can’t be angry at you, because how can I be angry at someone who has something actually broken in them? My dear Surly Grown Man Internet Bully, I cannot, and I mean that sincerely.
4. I’m sad because I actually would love to talk to you about your 30-year news career. It completely fascinates me, and I would appreciate the opportunity to learn something from you and teach my students about it as well. Instead of taking the opportunity to share your opinion on bloggers in a calm, intelligent way and learning from each other, you closed that door in the rudest way possible. That doesn’t make me unintelligent, sir, that makes you so.
Here’s another perplexing example of the battles you pick. This is one of many comments by a grown, adult man on my friend Chelsea of Inspiration Indulgence‘s Huffington Post article about why women should stop using the word “slut” as a term of endearment.
Hmm. Conor, you have stumped me. Where, oh where to begin here?
1. How about, why are you reading an article for women about why we should stop using slut as a term of endearment to one another? I’m not saying we have to agree with one another in order to get along – in fact, I believe controversy SHOULD be embraced. But the fact that you ‘levelled more horrendous insults at people closest’ to you doesn’t make me inclined to listen to or trust anything you say. It makes me sad for your family and friends.
2. I think my friend Chelsea is great and important, but you must think VERY highly of her – the fact that her point of view symbolizes all of America is pretty incredible.
3. “Give over”? Umm, I’ll just leave that one alone, buddy.
Overall, there are a few things I hope you can understand.
1. Being a blogger is not some sort of pyramid scheme. If you hate bloggers, don’t read their blogs. We don’t secretly launder money from you and laugh about it while tossing hundred dollar bills around (at least not anymore).
2. Not only is blogging a fulfilling and demanding hobby and creative outlet, but it is an excellent and legitimate source of income for many people.
3. Behind every blog, behind every social media profile, behind every news article is an actual person – you know, like you! Man, woman, black, white, and everything in between, we are people – we are more alike than we realize, and I hope we can all start seeing that so we can live in a more kind, productive, and more enjoyable world.
I hope you’ll check out my strategies for having a productive controversial conversation or one in which you disagree with someone.
If you disagree with me, great! Let’s talk about it. Let’s seize the opportunity to showcase our intelligent adult skills of communicating with someone who thinks differently. Let’s not pick on others through cyber bullying – I mean honestly, at least do it to my face. That would be way more fun.